The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Balm in time of bomb

London, Aug. 9: After hearing so much about suicide bombers allegedly being groomed at some mosques in the UK, the consecration of a Jain temple, dedicated to non-violence, will provide welcome relief to the people of Britain.

A religion where the ultra-orthodox wear gauze over their mouths so that no insect is swallowed accidentally might once have seemed eccentric to the British but will now come across as positively attractive.

Built from pink marble and sandstone from Rajasthan, the '3.6-million Jain temple in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, will be ready for worship later this month.

There is a good chance the structure will be treated as one of the new architectural splendours of Britain, to be ranked alongside the white marble Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir in Neasden, north London.

The money has been raised entirely from the 30,000-strong Jain population, whose members are drawn from the Oshwal community in Gujarat and who have come to Britain via East Africa in most cases.

Compared with the detailed coverage given to Islam in recent years, very little is written about other religions from the subcontinent and almost nothing about Jainism.

The Jain temple is set on 80 acres, much of which will be given over to gardens, where there will be plaques to remind British Jains of more than 50 villages back in Gujarat which were once home to their forefathers.

Sailesh Shah, a spokesman for the temple, said the pink marble was carved in Rajasthan under the direction of the principal architect, Rajesh Sompura, but was then assembled to British building standards under the supervision of the UK contractor, Lodge & Son.

“The pink marble has been chemically treated to give it protection from the British weather,” he added.

Giving a brief sketch of Jains in Britain, the spokesman said about 2,000 were well off, probably millionaires, while another 3,000 were accountants, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other professionals.

“We have not gone outside for donations,” he said.

An expert team from India was present during the assembly and building, especially when the central dome and ceiling, intricately engraved with deities, were being put into place.

To mark the consecration, Jains from around the world will be joining a 10-day celebration where priests from India will conduct prayers and local donors and the community will participate in a collective sanctification of the new building and its deities.

Shah said: “This ceremony is very colourful and accompanied by music, singing and dramatics.”

The spokesman added: “There will be activities for all the family and freshly prepared vegetarian food will be served to all visitors during the entire event.”

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